Lewis Carroll's "The Walrus and the Carpenter." Teachers are permitted to make multiple copies for classroom use only. "The moment has come to talk about many things," the Walrus remarked, "of shoes—and ships—and sealing-wax—of cabbages—and kings—of why the water is boiling hot—and if pigs have wings." "Don't talk nonsense," said Alice.
Carroll wrote this poem in 1872 for a children's magazine called "The Garden of Words." It was inspired by Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (1832-1898), who wrote under the pen name Lewis Carroll. He was a British mathematician and philosopher who lived in Oxford, England. His best known work is "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" (1865) and "Through the Looking Glass" (1871).
In the poem, the Walrus is a character from William Shakespeare's play "The Tempest". The Walrus is a large creature with a human face and body covered with thick black hair. He speaks in riddles and tends to frighten people with his appearance. In this case, he tells Alice that it's time to talk about many things including ships and sealing wax. No one knows what the Walrus is talking about except for Alice who refuses to believe him.
Sealing wax is a product used to seal letters or packages. It is made by melting beeswax into a liquid state and cooling it down until it becomes hard.
"The moment has come to talk about many things," the Walrus remarked, "of shoes—and ships—and sealing-wax—of cabbages—and kings—of why the water is boiling hot—and if pigs have wings."
"The time has come," the Walrus said again.
Lewis Carroll's nonsensical poem "The Walrus and the Carpenter" is nonsense. The Walrus and the carpenter are both annoyed by the amount of sand on the beach. The carpenter builds a wall to keep the walrus out, but this makes him sad. Then the walrus eats the carpenter.
This story is full of ambiguities, but it has inspired many songs and poems since its first publication in 1865. One of these is "The Battle Hymn of the Republic", which was written as an oration for the funeral of President Lincoln. It is now used as the official hymn of some two dozen nations plus the state of Washington, D.C.
Another example is Bob Dylan's song "The Times They Are A-Changin'". First released in 1963, it is considered one of the seminal songs of the civil rights movement. The song tells of racial injustice in the United States, but also can be interpreted as a lament for the dying culture of America.
Dylan has said that he wrote the song after reading about a violent confrontation between protesters and police at the University of Mississippi. He decided not to go to New York City because there were already too many people around where he lived. So he went to Minneapolis instead.
The reference to the walrus comes to Lewis Carroll's work "The Walrus and the Carpenter" (from the book Through the Looking-Glass). Later, when he realized the walrus was a villain in the poem, Lennon expressed his dismay. "I think it's unfair that the walrus gets to keep his clothes while the carpenter has nothing to wear."
Carroll wrote several other poems using characters from "The Walrus" story: "Jabberwocky" features the wolf, the dragon, and the unicorn; "Dormouse" tells of the dormouse; and "The Hunting of the Snark" tells of the quest for the snark. These poems were later collected into books called Jabberwocky and The Hunting of the Snark. Carroll also wrote poems about other characters from the story: "The Jumbler" tells of a drunk who tries to break a jumbling machine; "The Tuttletail" tells of a boy who seeks revenge on a boy who has teased him; and "Wasp and Wafer" tells of two children who play with a cake that turns out to be very poisonous.
Lennon loved poetry and used it to express himself. He read many poems by William Blake during his time with the Beatles. In particular, he admired "The Tyger" and "London's Burning".